If somehow you haven't heard yet, the St. Louis Rams are up for sale to the highest bidder, leaving open the possibility that the franchise could move out of Missouri. St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports columnist Bernie Miklasz broke the news Sunday, May 31.
More interesting to me, though, was not that the team is up for bid. That's been inevitable since Georgia Frontiere's kids inherited the team last year. What's tough for me to swallow is that Forbes magazine estimates the Rams' valuation at $929 million. That's nearly twice the $486 million that Forbes figures the baseball Cardinals are worth.
How the hell can that be? I know the NFL's television contract is worth billions and billions, and the league has a much more generous revenue-sharing system than baseball. But c'mon! The Rams? Worth nearly a billion dollars?
This, despite the fact that the Redbirds are one of the most storied franchises in American sports and play 81 home games in St. Louis each regular season (in front of 3 million paying customers) versus just 10 home games for the Rams, including the team's pre-season matches!
And the Cardinals also own their own radio station and stadium! If I recall, the price tag alone on the new Busch was more than $400 million.
So, can someone out there please explain? I know all valuations are guesswork and something is only worth as much as someone is actually willing to pay. Still, Forbes seems to be way, way off on this one. What's next? Is the magazine going to estimate the value of the St. Louis Athletica at half-a-bil?
America's Most Wanted Challenges Kenny Hulshof
Dale Helmig, convicted and sentenced in 1996 to life in prison without parole for the murder of his mother, on June 3 filed a petition with the Missouri Supreme Court that seeks a DNA test and a new trial.
Recently, Helmig was featured on the nationally televised program America's Most Wanted. The show that usually attempts to bring criminals to justice devoted much of its broadcast to questioning the case against Helmig and the conduct of the prosecutor, Kenny Hulshof, who later became a six-term congressman. America's Most Wanted reported that Hulshof and co-prosecutor, Robert Schollmeyer, "skillfully presented a torrent of innuendo, hearsay and facts turned upside-down" and even elicited testimony from a state trooper that directly contradicted the trooper's written report.
Helmig's petition is the second time this year that Hulshof — the Republican candidate who ran for governor last November — has been accused of withholding evidence and knowingly presenting false testimony and evidence during his time as a prosecutor. In February inmate Joshua Kezer was freed from prison when a judge determined that Hulshof had withheld key evidence from defense attorneys and embellished details in his closing arguments in Kezer's murder trial.
Hulshof, now a corporate attorney in Kansas City, declined to comment to America's Most Wanted, and was unable for interviews yesterday when Helmig filed his petition.
UMSL Professor Says: "Come Fly With Me"
In 1957, amid the true glory days of air travel, Frank Sinatra came out with "Come Fly With Me," a hit song that evoked the glamour and exhilarating anticipation of climbing aboard an airplane:
Come fly with me, let's fly, let's fly away
If you can use some exotic booze
There's a bar in far Bombay
Come fly with me, we'll fly, we'll fly away
Yes, Virginia, there was a time when no one dared hop a plane in flip-flops and shorts, when there was ample space in mood-lit cabins, and the food was delicious and served on real dishes atop tablecloths, when flight attendants were pampering stewardesses who took pride in memorizing the names of all those who strode in their Sunday best onto 58-passenger DC-7s.
"Flying used to be an event. Now, it's like riding a city bus," says Daniel Rust, who has written and published the gorgeous coffee-table book Flying Across America: The Airline Passenger Experience.
The book, rife with pictures of vintage brochures, posters and photographs, covers a lot of historical ground, from the first transcontinental expeditions of the 1920s, to the unhappy impact of deregulation in 1978 and the increasingly joyless experience of voyaging into the wild blue yonder in the post-9/11 era.
Rust, the assistant director of the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, keeps his primary focus, though, on firsthand accounts of real people recalling the golden age of air travel — an era Rust views as the 1950s to the first days aboard new Boeing 707s and Douglas DC-8 liners that marked the dawn of the jet era in the early 1960s.
"People would tell me they actually had to tell stewardesses to stop asking them if they needed anything else," recounts Rust.
One of Rust's more fascinating ruminations concerns the manner in which the stewardess became a popular cultural icon. Writes Rust:
In 1965, Braniff purposefully emphasized the stewardesses' sexuality with a ritual called the air strip. Over the course of a flight, a stewardess removed outer layers of clothing until she was dressed only in her skirt and blouse. Airline marketing campaigns of the early 1970s gave full reign to the sexual revolution. The most notorious example came from National Airlines. Its "Fly Me" advertising campaign featuring winsome females on television saying such lines as, "I'm Debbie! Fly Me!"
Rust says the next generation of jet flight, which will largely manifest itself in Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, will try and resurrect some of those bygone amenity-rich relics of the past: large windows, higher humidity levels for more comfort and dimmer cabin lighting.
"But I'm sure," says Rust, "there won't be the leg room people once had. Economics, you know. Got to cram in as many as you can."Weather-wise, it's such a lovely day
You just say the word, and we'll beat those birds
Down to Acapulco Bay
It's perfect, for a flying honeymoon — they say
Come fly with me, we'll fly, we'll fly away.
—Ellis E. Conklin